Following today’s abbreviated Anthony LaRezza Invitational Softball Tourney at Immaculate Heart Academy, the IHA coaches, players, parents and friends gathered around the infield for a few words from head coach Diana Fasano.
Fasano thanked the crowd for its support, expressed hope that Saturday’s washed out games could be made up, and then asked if anyone would like to make a few comments.
Obviously, the thoughts were focused around LaRezza, the beloved softball coach at IHA. But today, the message was clear for the future.
It’s time to play softball.
And Newark Academy coach Sergio Rodriguez spoke to the IHA team, in an open setting, to say just that.
“No one is going to think less of you to just go out and play,” said Rodriguez, himself a close friend to LaRezza, in somewhat of a paraphrase. “It’s been hard on me, as it’s been, on you, and I’m a 41-year-old man. I can’t imagine how you’ve been dealing with it. But it’s time. It’s time for me to coach better and time for you, as a team to play to your potential. Use that energy and focus to play softball. This game’s built for failure, and it’s hard enough to succeed, anyway.
“Have fun. Don’t expend energy on feeling down, anymore. (Anthony) wouldn’t want that. Just play your game. I’ll be rooting for you to win every one.
“Except, of course when you play us.”
With that, some laughter from the players and coaches.
And yes, it’s time.
“He would be so (ticked) off for all this attention,” said Fasano of LaRezza. “He’d never stand for this. He’d just want the kids to have fun, and that’s what we want, too. We appreciate all the support, and it’s been tremendous. But we want these kids to play and get in a regular routine. We knew this would be a hectic week, but it’s time to get back to be doing what we enjoy best.”
So, for the rest of the season, it’s about a pitching staff of stud lefties Olivia Sprofera (Southpaw Slew) and Katie Kudlacik (Southpaw Secretariat). It’s about Reese Guevarra (Sunday Silence), Taylor Kenerson, Reagan Jones, Ally Dudek, Sonia Sharma, Sarah Siclari, Emilie Cieslak, Taylor Gallagher, Kylie Carr, Danica Yatko, Laura Iobst, Victoria Casey, Melissa Beale, Caroline Ventor, Victoria Valentin, Sarah Browning and Mia Recenello.
The 3-1 Eagles will play games this week at Holy Angels on April 11 and at home to Wayne Valley on April 12, before traveling to Cedar Grove on April 16 for the Black and Gold Tourney, with games there against Montclair and Pope John.